Hello, I'm Jessa. I love to write, pet dogs, and do makeup in my spare time. I am also bisexual.
My bisexuality does not define me, and it is not a problem. However, the way the general public (and even members of the LGBTQ community) view bisexuality is a problem.
I have known I was "different" from the age of 13 — thank you Lady Gaga in the "Poker Face" music video. I came out at 18 after starting college. The first sign of casual biphobia was that I didn't even know bisexuality was a thing until freshman year of high school. All through life I had heard people say there was only gay, lesbian, and straight.
The media was no help. I remember when Lindsay Lohan started dating Samantha Ronson and the tabloids declared, "She's a lesbian now!" Discussions of Freddie Mercury were always, "Was he gay? Was he straight?" Nothing about the possibility of bisexuality.
People say "bisexuals are just confused" but, honey, I was only confused when I thought I was "broken." I did not know why I would have a schoolyard crushed on both boys and girls, and I certainly did not know that I was far from the only person that did. I am not half-straight, half gay; I am a whole bisexual woman, and I am a hell of a lot more than that.
I'm lucky and consider myself blessed that my queer experience has been more positive than negative. My family, for the most part, has been more than accepting — especially my wonderful parents — and I have never been physically attacked on the basis of my sexuality.
As lucky as I am to have a queer experience that is mostly positive, I have still faced biphobia throughout my life and will probably continue to do so. I won't go into all of the stories, but here are some that stand out the most.
The earliest case of explicit biphobia was in math class during my junior year of high school. I was never the "cool kid" in high school. In fact, I was probably one of the biggest "losers" there was and I was cool with that. I went to a small high school in northern Kentucky and diversity was not the school's strong point. Due to the close-mindedness of the students, I remained in the closet all four years of high school despite being fully aware I was queer.
I remember it like it was yesterday, in spite of the fact that it happened around five years ago. During the math class, we had some down time after a test so, naturally, everyone started talking amongst themselves. I didn't have any friends in that class so I was left with eavesdropping into other conversations.
"Bisexuals are fake," a classmate a few seats ahead of me scoffed. "Yeah, who do people who claim they're bi think they're fooling? They probably have so many STDs!" a classmate next to her giggled in agreement.
"Oh shit... do they know? Is that why they're saying this? Oh God, they know!" I thought, sweating, closeted, and very bi.
The biphobic rhetoric continued for a few more minutes until one of the only out queer people shut the conversation down. I thanked the woman who unknowingly stood up for me, and all other bisexual people, years later through Facebook.
The next defining moment of biphobia came from a lesbian at a party. It was my sophomore year of college and I was hanging out at a party thrown by a friend. I had noticed another woman's Pride pin and decided to talk to her. We had a decent conversation until it came out, no pun intended, that I was bisexual. After that, she scoffed and said, "You'll choose a side eventually." I said I had already chosen a side; I'm bisexual. After I gave that answer she rolled her eyes and excused herself from the conversation.
The most recent, as well as the most baffling, case of biphobia was also from a lesbian. I was wearing a bathing suit that had a rainbow band under the bust and was told that I could get away with "being normal" and that the flag was not for me. She then called me a "watered-down gay" and told me that bisexual people had it "easier" than other queer people. This led me to believe she has not seen any of the research that bisexual women are at a higher risk of sexual assault and violent attacks than straight and lesbian woman or that bisexual people are at a higher risk of depression and suicide than straight or other monosexual people.
I was so offended by the comment that the anger came in layers. First of all, hi internalized homophobia with that "normal" comment; and second of all, I have every right to the flag as a monosexual queer person does. Hell, even allies have a right to the flag if they respect it!
As far as the "watered-down gay" comment goes, I had just begun casually dating the woman who is now my girlfriend, and I asked her if that was not enough to prove my queerness. She told me that it was not because I could always end up "marrying a man" and "blending in."
Even if I do marry a man, which is a long shot, I would still never "blend in." My queerness would not be diminished. I would still keep fighting as a queer woman. My voice will never be silent, no matter who I end up marrying.
To all the lovely bisexual people out there, happy Bi Visibility Week! You are strong, resilient, and you are not "watered-down gays."
JESSA POWERS is an editorial intern at The Advocate. Follow her on Instagram @TheLifeOfJessaP.